China: Electric Trackless Train Launched

China has launched a train but it isn’t just any train, it actually travels along virtual rail lines. The technology is one of a few transportation ideas that China has tested in recent years and the country hopes to have it in other cities in 2018.

The trackless train is traveling across virtual rail lines in the city of Zhuzhou. The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) was unveiled earlier this year and has three carriages, which can carry a little over 300 passengers. There is also plans for a train with five carriages, which can carry a lot more passengers.

The trackless train isn’t as long as a regular train and is often described as a combination between a trolley, bus and train. The ART, created by the CRRC Corporation, cost a little over $2 million to build. The train can travel at a speed of 43 mph and is equipped with sensors that follow a virtual track.

Zhuzhou is the first to see this technology but China is planning to launch it in other cities in 2018. The trackless train has a number of advantages over the regular trains. The first is that it costs way less and the second is that the city doesn’t have to set up tracks. The train can also come up with detours if there is a lot of traffic.

How does the train work? Well, the trains follow dotted lines painted on the road. The trains currently have drivers but they are still being tested. In the future, they might be driverless, just like the cars that several companies are testing.

The trackless train can travel up to 25 miles with a full charge. A ten minute charge can be used for a 15 mile trip. The inauguration date is set for 2018 but three trains are already being tested in the city. There will be four miles of ART line once the project is completed in the city next year.

Chief Engineer Feng Jianghua gave a little more information on the technology being used for the train. He says the train is equipped with sensors that measure the distances and continue to collect information as it travels along the virtual track.

There are plenty of benefits but there are also plenty of questions on how it will work when there is snow or water on the dotted lines along the road.